Syrian unrest: Troops move into Jisr al-Shughour
Syrian government forces have advanced into the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour, state media say, as part of a widespread government crackdown.
The BBC 12 June 2011
Witnesses reported an attack using tanks and helicopter gunships, after an early-morning bombardment.
The government says it is trying to restore order after it claimed 120 security personnel had been killed.
But residents say the dead were killed after a mutiny and fighting between the security forces.
The government advance sent more people fleeing towards the Turkish border, to join more than 4,000 who have already crossed.
Misrata: One day in Libya’s rebel stronghold where calm gives way to chaos
The battered Libyan port is coming back to life as a vibrant trading centre with an eye for a deal. But on its outskirts, frontline fighters struggle against Gaddafi’s professional army
The Observer, Sunday 12 June 2011
The sun is shining in Misrata on Friday morning, and in Tripoli Street they’re selling souvenirs. On a trestle table, little flags, buttons and hats emblazoned in the Libyan tricolour – red, black and green – provide an island of brightness in the blasted grey landscape of pulverised buildings and wrecked tanks that is now downtown Misrata. “We’re a business-minded city,” says Ali, a slim young trader in a long brown robe.
Indeed they are. With the enemy now pushed back beyond artillery range, this battered city is shaking itself back to life. Squads of boys too young to fight are out tidying the streets, painting white lines along the highways and manufacturing souvenirs
After 10 years, no security unit is fit to take over from coalition in Afghanistan
The 2014 troop exit is threatened by the poor state of local police and army
By Jonathan Owen Sunday, 12 June 2011
Not a single Afghan police or army unit is capable of maintaining law and order in the war-torn country without the support of coalition forces, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. Almost a decade after international troops were sent in to overthrow the Taliban and help to establish a functioning democracy in Afghanistan, a combination of poor training, lack of numbers, corruption and illiteracy has left the country unable to protect its own people.
The grim official assessment of the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is a major blow to the hopes of a troop withdrawal by 2014, a timescale that assumes the ANSF will be able to start taking the lead in fighting the Taliban from next month.
Our family ripped apart by Europe’s last dictator says Iryna Khalip, wife of jailed Andrei Sannikov in Belarus
Iryna Khalip, wife of Andrei Sannikov, the jailed opposition leader of Belarus, has described how her husband only ‘confessed’ after threats to kill her and her son.
By Andrew Osborn, in Minsk8:00AM BST 12 Jun 2011
Drawing nervously on a cigarette in a café in Minsk, the capital of a country often dubbed Europe’s last dictatorship, Iryna Khalip dreams of the day when her life no longer reads like something out of George Orwell’s novel 1984.
Wife of the country’s leading opposition figure, a courageous journalist, and mother to a young son, she always knew that Belarus’s neo-Soviet regime was vicious. But she had not expected it to target her family for destruction in even her worst nightmares.
Zim summit charts course toward elections
JOSHUA HOWAT BERGER JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – Jun 12 2011
Mugabe (87) has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, but inconclusive elections three years ago forced him into a unity government with Morgan Tsvangirai, his main rival, who is now prime minister.
Their shaky alliance was meant as a transitional government to oversee the drafting of a more democratic constitution, paving the way to new elections that regional leaders hope would avoid a repeat of the violent 2008 vote.
Mexico peace tour: Final stop in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico’s ‘epicenter of pain’
Renowned poet Javier Sicilia concluded the week-long Peace Caravan Thursday night in Mexico’s most violent city. Our correspondent is in the caravan, talking to residents along the way.
By Irene Caselli, Correspondent
Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
The cry is clear and strong in the Villas de Salvarcar stadium in Ciudad Juárez, the Peace Caravan’s final stop in its week-long journey across the north of Mexico.
The crowd is shouting one word: justice.
Hundreds of people have gathered in this brand new stadium to welcome Javier Sicilia, the poet who called for the 1,500-mile journey to reach what he has called “the epicenter of pain.”
This city of 1.3 million inhabitants has taken the brunt of the war on drugs declared by President Felipe Calderón in 2006. Of the more than 35,000 victims of violence in the past four years, 8,000 were in Juárez.